Germany’s Elurra deliver powerfully fiery black metal on their richly compelling new album, Die Herrschaft der Sonne, which translates as “The Reign of the Sun.”
The music is definitely melodically inclined — the album’s closing track, “Elur Beltza,” features some particularly poignant flashes of guitar melody as a sort of parting sentiment — but it’s also hypnotically grim. The almost constantly brisk music feels like it’s churning through some kind of metaphysical dimension inhabited by a being like the figure depicted on the cover art, where a bright haze appears in place of a face. With searing flashes of melodic energy, Elurra combine a sort of bliss with gripping tension, seemingly charting an emotional path towards some kind of inwardly illuminating fire.
There’s a sense of growing triumph in the sound, but there’s also a sense of walking through fire on the way to that place of triumph. The sound doesn’t quite feel crusty, but there’s still plenty of grit — it’s not a particularly crisp or orchestral presentation. Instead, the scorching music feels weighty, as though carrying some kind of psychological burden.
In the more breathable segments of the record when the melodic push seems particularly clear, Elurra’s sense of musical breakthrough feels inflected with mourning. The mourning feels personal — the scorching haze in the music feels like a look at personal devastation in the shadow of some kind of otherworldly force. It’s like a soundtrack for desperation in response to the — partially self-inflicted — devastation of humanity.
The music presents anxious tension as an almost cosmic force, spotlighting a searing psychic collapse. Some of the music seems repetitious, which helps establish the album’s sense of psychological disorientation, because the resounding force feels dizzyingly focused. Although there are plenty of fast and intense performances in here, the songs never feel particularly chaotic. Instead, they hinge upon the guiding central fire and the dynamic rhythms that fill the experience.
“Kein Tod,” the album’s opening track, grows from galloping rhythms into a blistering haze, and the intensity stays up as the next track, “König des Staubes,” begins. Meanwhile, “Die ewige Schlange” — which means “The Eternal Snake” and comes up next — features staggered heavy metal riffing around its midpoint, and shortly before the grimy melodic triumph of the closing track, Elurra roll out the pointedly brash and upwardly forceful instrumentation of “Eine Letzte Schlacht” — or “One Last Battle” — which packs some of the most soaring music of the record, like floating through a cosmic struggle.
Throughout the record, the music remains thoroughly compelling, presenting the sounds of a metaphysical yet immensely personal struggle.
Listen to Die Herrschaft der Sonne below!